The Best Hutong Walk in Beijing

Our UnTour Beijing team is regularly asked what we recommend visitors see or do after they finish the Beijing Hutong Breakfast Tour or on their extra day in Beijing. Our answer is always to continue exploring the very heart of the city through the best hutong walk in Beijing.

And where is the best hutong walk in Beijing? The stroll from the Lama Temple to the Drum Tower and along Beijing’s ancient Central Axis to Jingshan Park, conveniently located around the corner from our Beijing Hutong Breakfast tour. On the way, you’ll also pass the Confucius Temple and Imperial Academy, Nanluoguxiang, the Bell Tower, Houhai and Shichahai lakes, the Fire God Temple, Wanning Bridge, and the historic Di’anmen neighborhood, and the whole walk is just 4.6km (3mi). Scroll to the bottom of this post for a map!

None of these stops require advance bookings, except on the busiest days of the year, and tickets can be purchased at the gate. Ticket prices are given below as full/concession and all accept WeChat Pay, Alipay, and cash.

Begin by getting yourself to the Lama Temple. You can take the subway to Yonghegong Lama Temple Subway Station on lines 2 and 5 and walk 100m south from Exit F. Yonghegong is the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet, and in addition to being an attraction for tourists, its also a site for pilgrims from around China and a working monastery with resident monks. Visit to gain an understanding of the role of Buddhism in China, appreciate the heavenly architecture, and don’t skip visiting the final hall.

Lama Temple (雍和宫)

  • Opening times April 1 – October 31: 9:00-17:00 (no entry after 16:30)
  • Opening times November 1 – March 31: 9:00-16:30 (no entry after 16:00)
  • Ticket price: 25/12 RMB

Next, cross the street and find the archway marking the eastern end of Guozijian Street.

Follow the street until you reach the Temple of Confucius and the Imperial Academy. In ancient times, aspiring government officials travelled here from all over China to sit the imperial examination. Much of what they had spent years studying in preparation for the exam was Confucian philosophy, making the temple and the academy natural neighbors in the layout of Beijing. Visit to learn about Confucianism in China and governance in imperial times.

Confucius Temple and Imperial Academy (国子监孔庙)

  • Opening times: 9:00-17:00 (no entry after 16:30)
  • Ticket price: 30/15 RMB

Exiting the Confucius Temple, turn right and head west along Guozjian Street. The arches in this street are among the last surviving in Beijing. Follow them to the end and cross the street.

Walk south along Andingmen Nei Dajie until you reach the next large intersection and turn right into Gulou Dong Dajie /Gulou East Street. This street is full of small shops and cafes, and is great for window shopping, people watching, or browsing for gifts (for yourself).

On your left-hand side, you’ll pass the northern entrance to Nanluoguxiang. This alley can be too crowded with tourists to walk down on weekends and holidays, but is quiet on weekdays, and is a great spot to pick up souvenirs and gifts for kids.

Continue west along Gulou Dong Dajie and you’ll reach the Drum Tower and Bell Tower. Originally built to mark the passing of the hours, the towers are worth the climb to the top, both to see the bell and drums, and for the view.

Drum Tower and Bell Tower (钟鼓楼)

  • Peak season opening times (we assume summer): 9:30-17:30
  • Low season opening times: 9:30-16:30
  • Bell Tower ticket price: 10/5 RMB
  • Drum Tower ticket price: 20/10 RMB
  • Ticket price to climb both: 30/15 RMB
  • Drum performances inside the Drum Tower: 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00
A view from the Drum Tower across part of Beijing’s Central Axis to Jingshan Park

Leaving the Drum Tower, head south along the road in the picture above, through the Di’anmen neighborhood. Now, Di’anmen is a neighborhood and and an intersection, but in imperial times it was the northern gate to the Imperial City.

Peking Duck Stop

If you’ve just finished the Hutong Breakfast Tour, do not plan for lunch. You will not need it! (Similarly, if you’re about to take the Old Beijing Dinner Tour, consider skipping lunch. We need you hungry!)

Otherwise, now might be a good time to think about finding something to eat. It may also be a great time to check Peking Duck off your list, as there’s a great duck restaurant right on your walk.

While many visitors opt to try Peking Duck in one of the famous chain restaurants, doing so often requires a special trip and a long wait in line. Trying a local neighborhood-style duck restaurant is an equally valid choice, especially when you know you’re walking past a good one.

Di’anmen Roast Duck Shop

In Beijing, people don’t call Peking duck “Peking duck” or “Beijing duck”. They just call it roast duck and this restaurant is simply called Di’anmen Roast Duck Shop. It’s located at 54 Di’anmen Wai Dajie (地安门外大街54) and it’s open from 10am-9:30pm. Cross to the eastern side of the road and keep an eye out for the name in Chinese 地安门烤鸭店.

The front of the restaurant looks like this:

And when you peek inside the door, the first thing you’ll see is the duck oven.

Here’s a quick guide to ordering duck. You can order a half duck or full duck, depending on how hungry you are and both will come with the necessary pancakes and condiments. After duck restaurants slice the skin and meat off the ducks, the carcasses and attached meat are either fried with salt and pepper or served as a soup.

What to Order:

  • Whole Peking duck with pancakes and condiments 烤鸭 198 RMB
  • Half serving of Peking duck with pancakes and condiments 烤鸭半套 99 RMB
  • Extra pancakes 荷叶饼 12 RMB
  • Extra condiments 烤鸭小料 12 RMB
  • Duck bones fried in salt and pepper 椒盐鸭架 29 RMB
  • Duck bones served in a soup 精品鸭架汤 29 RMB

Turning left out of the duck restaurant, head south and cross the road and you’ll find yourself at the gates of the Fire God Temple. Established in 632, more than 600 years before Beijing became the capital and rebuilt in the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, this Taoist temple was built to worship Huode Zhenjun, a three-headed, six-armed god equipped with a bow and arrows, two swords, a magical fire gourd and other magical tools. Visit the temple to learn about Taoism or have a small temple experience in the middle of Beijing.

Fire God Temple (火德真君庙)

  • Summer Opening Times: 9am-6pm
  • Winter Opening Times: 9am-5pm
  • Entry: Free

The bridge right outside the temple gate is called Wanning Bridge (万宁桥). Built in 1285, it marks the beginning of the more-than-2,000-year-old Grand Canal, which runs from Beijing to Hangzhou, near Shanghai. As you cross the bridge, keep an eye out on both sides for the water-suppressing beasts carved out of stone and placed there to guard against flooding. While almost all of them have been replaced over the centuries, the northeastern beast is an original.

Continue south from the bridge and you’ll arrive at the Di’anmen intersection. Where the intersection is now was once Di’anmen Gate (men means gate), the northern gate to the imperial city. Its counterpart in the south is the still extant and much more famous Tian’anmen.

Straight ahead of you to the south is Jingshan Park. Originally attached directly to the Forbidden City, the park served as an imperial ‘backyard’ for private use. We suggest entering from the east gate, from where you’ll see a path leading up the hill to the peak. The peak has views out across all of Beijing, including the Forbidden City.

Jingshan Park (景山公园)

  • Opening Times April 1 – October 31: 6:00-21:00 (no entry after 20:30)
  • Opening times November 1 – March 31: 6:30-20:00 (no entry after 19:30)
  • Ticket price: 2 RMB (10 RMB during special events)

Bonus Stop: Sunset beers by the Drum Tower

Great Leap Brewing, one of Beijing’s first craft breweries, has recently secured an outstanding piece of real estate with a rooftop view directly onto the Drum Tower. In addition to serving beer, they’ve partnered with the restaurant downstairs to serve rooftop Beijing hot pot and shish kebabs. While we’ve found better hot pot elsewhere, on our Old Beijing Dinner Tour for one, we definitely recommend a visit for a cold beer and some lamb skewers after your walk through the hutongs.

Great Leap Brewing Gulou Taproom

  • 19 Di’anmen Wai Dajie地安门外大街19 (south of the Drum Tower on the western side of the street, look out for the small, circular Great Leap sign).
  • 170m north of Shichahai Exit A2
  • Open: 9:00-22:00

Looking for more insight into the best places to visit in Beijing? Join our Beijing food tours



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